Dispute leads to war between linked towns

Suspended Sakhisizwe Municipality mayor Siyabulela Nxozi
Suspended Sakhisizwe Municipality mayor Siyabulela Nxozi
Image: Sakhisizwe Municipality

Sakhisizwe Municipality’s offices in Kowa, formerly Elliot, have been closed for more than seven weeks as warring municipal factions are at loggerheads over the suspension of mayor Siyabulela Nxozi.

The offices were locked up about two months ago by angry Kowa community members who want Nxozi returned to office.

Sakhisizwe consists of Kowa and Cala, with some of those in Cala said to be against the return of Nxozi. They are also accused of chasing employees who hail from Kowa, from municipal offices.

Chair of the so-called crisis committee in Kowa, Bongani Mtseke, said the problem started when the ANC earlier this year decided to suspend Nxozi for a period of three months.

“The ANC provincial leadership did not find time to come to Kowa and explain what led to their decision,” Mtseke said.

“They only went to Cala where people had a problem with Nxozi.

“We believe that Nxozi was suspended for administrative things which are not in his scope of work.”

He said the issue of hiring people, which Nxozi is accused of mismanaging was not done by the mayor.

“Council appoints people and we feel that Nxozi is not responsible for that.

“Because of that decision, the municipal offices in Kowa have been closed for a month and three weeks and we won’t open it until Nxozi returns to his position as the mayor of Sakhisizwe,” he said.

“They must suspend the whole council instead. Nxozi is not responsible and it is the municipal manager who must account for alleged financial mismanagement,” Mtseke said.

He said his crisis committee had already engaged the people of Kowa “who agreed not to close their town down, but close the municipality offices where the problem is”.

“We won’t stop this until the ANC provincial executive committee comes here in Kowa to resolve what they have done.”

He said they had stopped people from Cala from coming into their town and that “now the two towns are at war”.

“We are tired of being undermined by the people of Cala and we want Kowa to be taken out of Sakhisizwe.”

Mayor Buyiswa Ntsere could not be reached for comment.

ANC provincial secretary Lulama Ngcukayitobi also did not respond to calls and messages sent to him on Friday.